Of the many “David versus Goliath” images that are portrayed in the media to dramatize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most common may be that of the seemingly helpless Palestinian throwing rocks at heavily armed Israeli soldiers. These images are powerful but also frequently misleading, failing to distinguish between the aggressor and the victim.
While the media is often drawn to rock throwing riots against IDF troops (often staged by Palestinian instigators), many attacks occur beyond the glare of media lights and are directed not only at soldiers, but Jewish men, women and children, often innocently driving along a roadway.
The media typically ignores these terror attacks against Jews, or significantly downplays their lethality. Ben Ehrenreich, for example, wrote in the New York Times about the “nonviolent resistance” of the Palestinians and then described the “asymmetric combat” in which masked shebab “armed with slings and stones” tried to “flank and surprise” Israeli soldiers. One Palestinian compared stones to Gandhi’s loincloth as a symbol of resistance (Ben Ehrenreich, “Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?” New York Times Magazine, March 15, 2013).
The Times’ Tom Friedman applauded “nonviolent resistance by Palestinians,” which he said consisted of boycotts, hunger strikes and rock-throwing (Thomas Friedman, “A Middle East Twofer,” New York Times, April 3, 2012). Non-violent resistance should not result in death. Palestinian rock throwers, however, have killed many Israelis.
For example, three days before Ehrenreich’s article appeared, 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal was killed on May 12, 2020, when a rock thrown off a rooftop struck him in the head. He died even though he was wearing a helmet (David M. Halbfinger, “Israeli Soldier Is Killed in West Bank as Tensions Rise Over Annexation Push,” New York Times, May 12, 2020).
The incidents of March 14, 2013, further dispel the false notion that rock-throwing is nonviolent or harmless. That day, a woman was driving with her three young daughters past the city of Ariel when a group of Palestinians threw rocks at a truck coming in the other direction. The truck swerved and collided with the family’s car, injuring the mother and the two older daughters. The youngest, a three-year-old child, was critically injured and died in 2015 (Marissa Newman, “Hundreds attend funeral for toddler hurt in 2013 attack,” Times of Israel, February 18, 2015). Later that same night, on the same highway, a 10-month-old baby was injured when rocks thrown at his parents’ car shattered the windshield (“Stone-throwing ‘terror attack’ causes crash, toddler critically hurt,” Times of Israel, March 14, 2013).
Other examples of the harmlessness of rocks include:
May 2020: A 21-year-old Israeli soldier was killed when he was struck in the head by a heavy rock (David M. Halbfinger, “Israeli Soldier Is Killed in West Bank as Tensions Rise Over Annexation Push,” New York Times, May 12, 2020).
December 2018: A pregnant woman was wounded in the face when her car was pelted by stones and, a few days later, a 9-month-old baby was injured when a rock shattered the window of the car she was riding in (Yotam Berger, “9-month-old Israeli Baby Lightly Wounded After Stones Hurled at His Family’s Car in West Bank,” Haaretz, December 18, 2018).
September 2015: Alexander Levlovich was killed by thrown rocks that caused his car to swerve out of control. Two of his daughters were badly injured (Diaa Hadid, “Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem,” New York Times, September 14, 2015).
November 2012: Ziona Kalla, wife of Israeli singer Itzik Kalla, sustained serious injuries as a result of stones hurled at her car by Palestinians near Beitar Illit (Elad Benari, “Terror Victim Makes Miraculous Recovery,” Arutz Sheva, December 10, 2012).
September 2011: Asher Palmer and his 1-year-old son were killed in a stone-throwing attack near Kiryat Arba. Two Palestinians from the nearby village of Halhul admitted to instigating the attack. Waal al-Araja – a member of the Palestinian security forces – was convicted of murder in the case in March 2013 (Tovah Lazaroff, “Palestinian convicted of killing Asher Palmer,” Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2013).
June 2001: Five-month-old Yehuda Haim Shoham’s family was returning from visiting relatives in Ra’anana when a Palestinian threw a rock at the front windshield that hit and killed baby Yehuda in the back seat (Cynthia Dettelbach, “Israeli couple copes with loss of a child,” Cleveland Jewish News, August 2, 2001).
May 2001: Koby Mandell (13) and Yosef Ishran (14) were beaten to death with rocks when they were hiking on the outskirts of Tekoa. Their bodies were found in a cave, covered with stones(Joel Greenberg, “2 Jewish Teenagers Are Beaten to Death in the West Bank,” New York Times, May 10, 2001).
October 2000: Bachor Jean (54) was killed by rocks thrown at his vehicle while he was travelling from Haifa to Rishon Lezion. The rocks shattered the windshield and struck his chest. The perpetrators were found to be from the nearby Arab village Jisar a-Zarka (“Rocks Can Kill,” Center for Near East Policy Research, July 15, 2013).
February 1993: Eleven year-old Chava Wechsberg, a U.S. citizen, was killed when the car in which she was riding was hit by rocks and crashed (Stephen M. Flatow, “Murder by stoning,” Jewish Standard, January 9, 2014).
February 1989: Stf. Sgt. Benny Meisner (25) was killed when he was struck in the head by a concrete block in Nablus (“Where’s the Coverage? Victims of Stone-Throwing Terrorists,” CAMERA, August 7, 2013).
January 1983: Esther Ohana (21) was killed by a rock thrown at her car that hit her in the head while driving near the Palestinian village Dahariya (Stephen M. Flatow, “Murder by stoning,” Jewish Standard, January 9, 2014).
 In 1959, for example, Israel complained that two countries (Liberia was one) moved their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in response to US pressure. In 2002, Congress passed a law that said that American citizens who wished to do so could have “Israel” listed as their birthplace on US passports. The State Department, however, refused to do so. The parents of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, an American citizen born in Jerusalem, sued the State Department to force the government to enforce the law. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which held that the president has an exclusive power of recognition, and, therefore, Congress may not require the State Department to indicate in passports that Jerusalem is part of Israel. “Dismayed: U.S. Court Refuses to Enforce U.S. Law Granting Jerusalem-Born U.S. Citizens Right to Have ‘Israel’ Listed on Official Documents,” Zionist Organization of America (July 15, 2009); instruction from the Department of State to all diplomatic posts, February 20, 1959, in FRUS, 1958–60, vol. 13, 147; memorandum of conversation, March 9, 1959, in FRUS, 1958–60, vol. 13, 151–52; “Supreme Court Strikes Down ‘Born in Jerusalem’ Passport Law,” Associated Press (June 8, 2015).
Jewish Virtual Library: MYTHS & FACTS